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Coronavirus: Does smoking, chewing tobacco increase chances of getting infected?

BusinessToday.In     April 5, 2020

Smoking may increase the risk of getting a severe case of coronavirus as it damages the lungs and other body parts, according to World Health Organisation (WHO). The possibility of virus transmission to mouth from fingers increases in smokers, the report added. However, in an earlier report, WHO had said that coronavirus is primarily transmitted via respiratory droplets and close contact and does not appear to stay long in the air.

"The act of smoking means that fingers (and possibly contaminated cigarettes) are in contact with lips which increases the possibility of transmission of the virus from hand to mouth. Smokers may also already have lung disease or reduced lung capacity which would greatly increase the risk of serious illness," WHO said in a Q&A section on smoking and COVID-19 on its website. Smoking products such as water pipes often involve the sharing of mouthpieces and hoses, which could facilitate the transmission of COVID-19 in communal and social settings, it added.

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Similarly, chewing smokeless tobacco including gutka, pan masala with tobacco, pan and areca nut (supari) increases the production of saliva, followed by a very strong urge to spit which could enhance the spread of COVID-19, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) recently said. ICMR also made an appeal to the public to abstain from consuming smokeless tobacco products and spitting in public places during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, India is currently under a 21-day lockdown. According to the Health Ministry data, 472 new cases have been reported in the last 24 hours. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday appealed to citizens to switch off electric lights at 9 pm on Sunday for nine minutes, and light candles or diyas to dispel the darkness spread by coronavirus pandemic.

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